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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    Corn Gluten - Is it Safe for a People with Celiac Disease Who are on a Gluten-Free Diet?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    The term gluten in reference to the cohesive, elastic protein mass remaining after starch is washed from a dough goes back to Beccari in 1745. Strictly speaking, gluten is found only in wheat because it is difficult to wash a cohesive protein mass even from rye, the closest relative to wheat, let alone from barley or oats or anything else. Unfortunately, a misuse of the term by the corn industry has become common in recent years. It has become fairly common to call corn storage proteins corn gluten. Personally, I think there is no justification for such usage. Corn may contain prolamins, as does wheat, but not gluten.


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    When it comes to celiac disease, a similar corruption of the term has become very common. There are certain related proteins in wheat, rye, and barley that give rise to particular peptides during digestion that are capable of triggering the responses typical of celiac disease. Only in the case of wheat can these be strictly considered to be derived from the gluten proteins. But for lack of a suitable term, patients and their physicians began speaking of gluten-free or gluten-containing foods. People ask me, How much gluten is there in quinoa? I have to translate this into, Are there any harmful peptide sequences in the proteins of quinoa? There is nothing in quinoa that is like gluten prepared from a wheat flour dough, which has an unusual, perhaps unique, viscoelastic character.

    In any case, as far as we know, corn does not seem to cause harm to celiac patients. Corn has not been studied in the extensive way that wheat has in relation to celiac disease, but for 40+ years patients and their physicians have seemed to agree that corn is OK. The sequences in the corn zein (prolamin) fraction are suspicious, but they do differ in an apparently crucial way from the protein sequences of the wheat gliadin (prolamin) fraction. There have been no modern biopsy-based studies of the effects of purified corn proteins on the celiac intestine as there have been for wheat, but the mass of evidence still seems to point in the direction of corn being safe for celiac patients.


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    Your site is fantastic!! I would like say that Eastern medicine is aimed at fixing the ailment and Western medicine aims at the symptoms, so conventional western doctors will be more than happy to give you a so called quick fix (drug) for the symptoms that you may, to their financial benefit require for a long long time all the while still holding the original ailment. Trust your instincts and seek the advice of a QUALIFIED alternative practitioner and be patient with altering your diet and bodies physiology as these things will take some time and most importantly dedication.

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    I hate corn, and the whole corn industry that forces it into EVERYTHING. So I'm like commenter #1 in that corn gives me the same reaction as gluten, namely: making my 'acne' flare up (dermatitis herpetiformis). I'm getting another round of scratch testing done to check for allergies to things like corn. I am also looking into metal poisoning (I have a number of metals I'm actually allergic to from my dermatological testing: nickel, chromium, aluminum, etc). Then I'm looking at candida and/or parasite issues. But I still have to eat. Does anyone have anything I can actually eat? I'm really hungry.

    Buckwheat - I mix up equal quantities of flour and water and leave over night then make pancakes, you can put banana, sultanas or whatever in or have as savory, nut butter on them is great many possibilities.

    Quinoa, chickpea flour - can replace wheat flour in pancakes or baking chickpeas.

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    Thank you, I am not celiac, but my son I believe is. we decided to move as a family gluten and casein free as I have other issues with fog and sleep. We started compensating with rice, corn, peanut butter and soy products. Now I am reading where some or all can still cause issues. I am struggling with the hit and miss methods as there are so many combinations to consider. for instance how you would ever determine a spice to be a reaction issue? I'm just tired of feeling bad and we don't have money to go get testing done. Thanks everyone for your input.

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    I have a similar reaction with corn as I do with wheat. My research has taught me that it may be due to the pesticide being the same used for both effecting the gluten somehow.

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    Anyone else have problems with corn? I am aware that it is not gluten, but after my celiac disease diagnosis I slowly became more sensitive to other foods. Rice first. (ouch) Then corn. Soy. Tomato. Besides the yeast, dairy, eggs, acidic foods...

    Response to Eileen Swanson who seems to think she is allergic to corn, rice, soy, tomato, yeast, dairy, eggs, acidic foods....Goodness, this sounds like a perfect reason to create food out of cardboard....

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    Thanks for the article. Like others, I have more recently become sensitive to corn. To respond to Jerry, I do not believe that common pesticides would be responsible at least in my case, since I got a reaction from eating organic corn flakes (three ingredients: corn, grape juice, salt). Oh well, I guess cereal is off the list for me.

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    Hi Scott,

    You have a great site. In reference to corn, glutensociety.org is saying that corn does have gluten along with all grains. Although, I always felt better on a "gluten-free" diet, as soon as I took myself off of all grains I felt an immediate difference. I went from about 80% better to 100% and no more muscle fatigue! I think more research needs to be done in this area. Physically, I am in agreement with there being gluten in all grains.

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    I hate corn, and the whole corn industry that forces it into EVERYTHING. So I'm like commenter #1 in that corn gives me the same reaction as gluten, namely: making my 'acne' flare up (dermatitis herpetiformis). I'm getting another round of scratch testing done to check for allergies to things like corn. I am also looking into metal poisoning (I have a number of metals I'm actually allergic to from my dermatological testing: nickel, chromium, aluminum, etc). Then I'm looking at candida and/or parasite issues. But I still have to eat. Does anyone have anything I can actually eat? I'm really hungry.

    You may have more than gluten sensitivity. I would do candida test. Then go on a candida diet. Having a candida problem can have some of the same symptoms. Unfortunately the diet is not easy. The candida die off causes flu like symptoms.

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    Guest casper van  aswegen

    Posted

    I faint sometimes and the doctors keep on saying it is epilepsy, but since I'm on a fruit and vegetable diet, which is gluten-free it is something of the past. This is only the case if I don't eat grain products. As soon as I'm eating oats or corn, I'm feeling bad! Therefore, this article was very interesting, by hearing that corn also affects other people the same way as gluten containing foods.

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    This article might be a little out dated because people with celiacs should definitely avoid corn!! I know it sucks for the gluten-free community because what the heck are we going to eat now?! But corn along with rice, contain gluten which makes perfect sense considering all the comments above who had reactions to corn. And being allergic to corn is totally different than being intolerant to it. Like Kristen said above some groups totally advise against all grains for people with celiac and gluten intolerance's.

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  • About Me

    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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